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Title: The voluntary controversy in the Church of Scotland, 1829-1843, with particular reference to its practical and theological roots
Author: Montgomery, Alfred Baxter
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1953
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Ernst Troeltsch has pointed out that Calvinism effected a compromise between two opposing ideas of the nature of the Church. On the one hand, it accepted what Troeltsch cells the sect-ideal of a 'holy Community' composed of those who are true believers in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Calvinism accepted what Troeltsch calls the Church-ideal, of a national community, and of national responsibility for religion* The ideal of the holy community was applied to the whole nation and civilization. This fusion of ideals produced within Calvinism a tension between the C urch ideal of a national religion, and the sect ideal of a holy community. This tension later shattered the solidarity of Calvinism, and often threw the Church into conflict with the State. This was particularly true where Calviniatic conceptions of Spiritual. Independence clashed with Erastian ideas of State supremacy. In Scotland, this inherent tension was magnified by the spirit of the times, and came to a head in the struggle over disestablishment which took place from 1829 to 1843. While it remained a conflict of Church parties, it had its greatest intensity between 1832 and 1839. When it elevated the ideal of Spiritual Independence, it threw the Church into conflict with the State and thus had a direct bearing on the Disruption of 1843, and the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. The conflict over disestablishment was one of church parties. In favor of establishments, was the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, established in the days of John Knox, and re-established by William and Mary, after the struggle with the Stuarts who had attempted to set up Episcopacy as the Established Church in Scotland. Allied with them, and sympathetic to their cause, were the Original Burgher Synod of the Secession Churches, and the Reformed Church, or Cameronians. Opposed to them, and denouncing establishments, were the United Associate Synod (the United Secession), the Relief Church, and the Independent Churches. The controversy, which was to be called the "Voluntary Controversy", was opened by a sermon preached by the Rev. Andrew Marshall on April 9th, 1829, in the Greyfriars Church, Glasgow, before a meeting of "the Glasgow Association for propagating the gospel in connexion with the United Secession Church." This sermon was published, and was reviewed at length in the August, 1829, issue of the "Christian Instructor", which was the organ of the Evangelical party in the Church of Scotland, The editor was the Rev. Andrew Thomson, minister of St. George's Church Edinburgh. The Review called forth a reply from Mr. Marshall, which he published in 1830 in the form of a letter to Dr. Thomson, The next year, 1831, Mr. Marshall published a more elaborate treatise entitled, "Ecclesiastical Establishments further considered," and the controversy was in full swing. After this exchange, Voluntaries continued to be concerned with dis-establishment. They did not, however, Insert themselves actively Into the events which were leading to the Disruption. Rather, they sat on the sidelines, and awaited the outcome. Truce had, in effect, been declared. After the Disruption, there was some feeling that the controversy should be revived, but Dr. Heugh and others expressed themselves against holding a public meeting for that purpose, and for the purpose of evaluating the position of the then newly-formed Free Church, with regard to the Voluntaries. They preferred rather that the new church should have time to find itself, and to mare its own adjustment to the fact that it was now die-established, and dependent for its support on the voluntary principle, or the voluntary benevolence of their supporters. Thus ended this phase of the struggle for dis-establishment of the Church. The Voluntary contention of the necessary corruption of the Church, when dependent on the state, had produced a hardening of opinions in the minds of Churchmen. Their vehement assertion of spiritual Independence, in the face of court decisions to the contrary, played a large part in the Disruption, and the establishment of the Free Church as Independent of State control, with Christ truly as its head.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available